Our guest blogger this month is Stephanie Lopez Lozano, Girls Inc.’s Health and Safety Coordinator. Stephanie is responsible for designing and implementing Girls Inc.’s coronavirus protocols in aligning with CDC guidelines.
Day to day life is extremely different compared to seven months ago, but we seem to have adjusted to our new normal in a way I would not have thought possible at the beginning of 2020. Girls Inc. of Greater Santa Barbara, of course, is no exception to this new normal. We have adjusted and are continuously adjusting to the evolving pandemic as best as possible. Girls Inc. has reopened our doors to our Goleta Valley Center and our Gymnasium at our Santa Barbara Center with some new health and safety procedures in place (and a new Health and Safety Coordinator) in order to serve our youth and provide them with some sense of stability during a time of instability.
So what exactly does a regular day at Girls Inc. look like now?
For starters, rather than operating an after-school program, we have turned our centers into distance learning sites where youth come during school hours to get assistance with their online classes. This in of itself is a huge shift from what we provided the community before, but it is a necessary service considering that it is not safe to reopen schools yet. Which might seem a little contradictory since both provide a service to the youth, but essentially what it boils down to is whether a place can set and execute the protocols necessary to minimize any type of exposure to COVID-19.
Of course, there is no one perfect way to safeguard against COVID-19, but we are doing the best we can to minimize any type of potential exposure by implementing the following practices:
- Staff complete a health intake with temperature check daily before entering the center.
- Same 2 staff per same 10-14 youth (dependent upon the physical space of a classroom).
- Parents/Guardians drop off/pick up from their cars in the parking lot. Walk-ins are also met in the parking lot.
- A health intake is done for youth with temperature check before entering the centers.
- People who do not work for Girls Inc. are not permitted inside the centers.
- Staff disinfects their classrooms throughout the day.
- Youth stay with only those that are in their cohort to minimize any cross contamination between groups.
- Youth take their lunch in different designated areas to minimize contact with other groups.
- Youth have their own set of supplies.
- Youth bring their own lunch and technology necessary to complete their distance learning.
- Everyone is required to wear a mask at all times, unless eating and/or drinking.
- Rooms are set up to allow for social distancing (only two kids per table).
- Hand washing and good health practices are promoted throughout the day.
- Certain bathroom stalls and sinks are designated for each group.
Our Gymnastics program is no different in terms of the health and safety protocols they are executing. They have adjusted their programming to have cohorts with a specific coach. Both staff and gymnasts also complete health intakes with temperature checks before being allowed to participate in the program. Thorough disinfection is done before the next cohort arrives. And of course, masks are worn when proper social distancing is not possible.
A lot has changed. And those four words don’t seem to encompass the enormity of how everybody’s life is different compared to seven months ago. We hope that Girls Inc. is providing some normalcy to our youth’s lives. We are providing support in the best way we know how to our community of Santa Barbara and keeping up with the changing guidelines to provide the safest environment for our youth.
As always, if you have any questions, comments, or concerns please feel free to contact us.
A lot has changed. And those four words don’t seem to encompass the enormity of how everybody’s life is different… We hope that Girls Inc. is providing some normalcy to our youth’s lives.